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tv   Charlie Rose  WHUT  March 10, 2012 3:00am-4:00am EST

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>> rose: welcome to the program, we begin this evening with a conversation with bruce ratner about brooklyn, new york. >> so why brooklyn, brooklyn growing up for me, i grew up in the 50s. you had the brooklyn dodger, everybody great that i knew of whether it be jackie gleason or walt wittman who i read about in college and high school, everybody seemed it to come from broo brook-- brack lynn, my dream is always about people, always about people, about people using the things that i'm able to build. it's about people using anarena, coming, being entertained, creating happy innocence an arena. about people leaving the building, and feeling wonderful about it it's about going to "new york times" building and seeing that news is produced there. it's about metro tech and saving jobs and making sure
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to maintain jobs. i've done a lot in retail in new york city, in the burrows. it's about people from my consumer background being able to buy things that are quality and less expensive. it's always for me about people. you know, i don't get as big a charge as people might think about the fact that i have built these buildings. i'm proud of it, yes. i always get wonderful feeling when i walk in my metrotech project and i see people on a summer day outside going to work. that's what makes me happy. so as long as i can keep doing buildings that people use in a good way and that contribute and that look good and are part of environment, that makes me happy. >> rose: we continue with a look at a new exhi business in philadelphia about vincent van gogh. >> our show is the last three and a half, four years. >> rose: very productive time. >> hugely just dying to paint, can't wait to get back in there as nature would often prevent, of course. but just these points of entry are, he has this no doubt of his absolute confi
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debs. this man is presented and famously so for all of his horrible, physical and mental sort of disasters rolling around within a faster rate of reoccurrence in the very time period we're dealing with. but the way that he is just heaving on with huge energy to get out there. it's kind of like a horse race. he wants to be out there in as radical as can be. and he knows a huge amount. he was friends with everyone, his brother who knew all the impressionists, he had a wonderful perspective on what was going on. he was positioning himself out there and what he had to do. and any numbers of way as a maker of paintings to invent and experiment with things that really did, it's fun to see the early purchases there, almost anything that sold was sold to go began and he had to sell it so it went to degas. >> i think he got so wrapped newspaper what he was doing when he was paint that he
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just became completely absorbed. it was reported in paris that he came back one day and he had paint all over his sleeves. he was just covered with paint,. and then there is also a story where i think coming back all day painted he had canvases under his arms. he meets pizaro who is very well established painter at that point and stops him in the street and says let me show you my work and everyone walking by is sort of astonishes by who is this crazy odd man who is guest particular lating and talking very animatedly. >> brooklyn and van gogh when we continue. funding for charlie rose was provided by the following
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captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: bruce ratner is here, the chairman & ceo of forest city ratner companies. he is one of the nation's most successful urban real estate developers. 25 years ago he saw the
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potential to revitalize brooklyn that ambition lead to the metrotech center, a 16 acre corporate campus that has produced more than 20,000 jobs. today his attention is focused on redeveloping the atlantic yard site at the centre of that project the barclays center. it will be home to the nba nets franchise. they depart new jersey for brooklyn next year. i'm pleased to have bruce ratner at this table for the first time. welcome. >> thank you, charlie. >> rose: we do lots of architects on this program as you know. >> it's true. >> rose: your friend frank ghery has been on ten times at least. but not many developers. tell me how you see developers and you ho you-- what do you think of the role of developers and why should we add mayor them and why should we not so much admire them. >> that's a very, very good question. well, first of all, i think the way i think about myself as a developer is as a civic developer. we do a lot of civic projects. and every project that we do has to have some civic component it can be
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architecture. it can be economic development or it can be something like the arena where you are providing entertainment, in some sense a public building. so we really what we really do is civic development. now that's not all developers. but we all need places to live. we all need office places to work. and we need places to shop. so developers are obviously a necessity. then obviously we varry like everybody else, whether it be journalists are or doctors. we vary from the very good to the not so very good. >> define the very good. >> to me a very good developer is someone who feels a responsibility of the public where the feeling that what you are doing is something that is going to live for a long time, it's going to be there for a long time. and it has some other aspect other than just making money. >> nass's you what want to believe, that somehow the developer has some instinct beyond money that respects history, that respects location, and respects the sense of the future, and
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something that people will look at and say you know that's more than a building that is something that lives and breathes as a sense of where civilization was and where it might be going. >> you're absolutely rate, charlie. and of course the problem is most developers really don't look at the whole in a wholeistic kind of way. they lack at more the economics. people will disagree as to what is good and what's bad and what what i do is, they like it, they don't like the architecture, but at least the intent is always trying to have an aspect of it, to have a civic component. and has some economic development or some architectural, some aspect that really contributes back. >> rose: so what is it about, we'll get to frank ghery in a poment but what is it about brooklyn for you. >> i love brooklyn. >> rose: but you grew up in cleveland. >> that's correct. i sometimes joke it is not a perfect jokes but that is why i like brooklyn. >> rose: the headquarters of your company is in cleveland. >> that's correct.
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>> rose: your father was the largest developer in cleveland. >> my father actually died when i was 16 b family members were in the business, yeah. >> rose: he start the business or not. >> no, he did not. he was no the in business. >> rose: he wasn't in the business. >> he was an immigrant. he came here when he was 20, in 1921. started as a water boy then learned welding, it's america's story there are so many of them, and started a small business, building suppliesment but anyhow, so why brooklyn, brooklyn i think growing up for me, i grew up in the 50s. you had the brooklyn dodgers. everybody great that i knew of, whether it be jack-year gleason or walt wittman who i read about in college and high school, everybody seemed to come from brooklyn. >> rose: norman mailer. >> that's correct, aaron copeland. >> rose: truman capote. >> barbra streisand lived in brooklyn question, go on and on and on from mel brooks and so on. so had this this sort of, i came to new york when i was 22 years old. and here's this place called brooklyn which is dense leigh populated. which had a baseball team
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which hi heard of which left in 1957. it was kind of like you grow newspaper cleveland, a nice play to grow up but you come to a place which you hear about as a kid, as a mecca. and so when i first came here, i worked for the city right after law school. >> rose: consumeary fairs. >> correct. and so i got to travel all over the city and i fell in love with brooklyn, the transportation, the parks, the museums, just everything. the brownstones. and so very early on i said in 1984, '85, i said this is the place i want to develop because i believe in this place. i believe this place will come back. so that's really what it was. >> rose: so it is a real opportunity there too. i mean it has a certain romance to it. it's close to it's across the river from manhattan, one of the great cultural centres of the world. yet it has its own assets as well. >> yes, it does. >> rose: what you want to do is rebuild that essence of brooklyn. >> i want to contribute to the rebuilding. because to be can really ever think, if any developer think these can rebuild a city, they don't know what they are talking about, they can contribute.
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>> rose: you formerly mr. in government, you have a very good relationship with the president of the borrow brooklyns. >> yes, i do. >> rose: the of two you seem to be in lock step about wanting to change brooklyn. he sees you as an allay and you as an ally. >> that's right, marty mark wits with. >> rose: what is the atlantic yards what is that opinions. >> atlantic yards is a 22 acre project it has a new arena, the barclays center which i think will be one of the most important civic buildings built in the city. i think it will be the most important arena built in the last half century in this country. and then -- >> a place basketball people will love. >> basketball people will love. boxing peel will love, circus people will love, people who love concerts will love. so it is going to have something for everybody. and then it's going to have 6400 housing units of which 2200 are affordable. that was a very important component from day one, that there would be-- . >> rose: probably assisted by the planning commission or someone like that. >> actually was not.
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the first announcement i gave, you have to understand i grew up in the 60s. and as i know did you. i went to law school at columbia, during the vietnam war and so i kind of came away from that with a sort of social democrat, if i will, if i may, and so we were an offset project i said there will be a significant amount of affordable housing. >> rose: you did that out of some instinct for there ought to be public housing rather than what i can do that will give them an opportunity to give the go-ahead to my project. >> absolutely. in fact, really from the first day i started developing i said to myself everything that i am going to do has got to have a public component. i don't just want to build a luxury residential building. i don't want to do that. if i do it, it's got to have architecture. >> rose: take a lack at this, firsthand, simulated image of the barclays center named for barclays bank. there you go. and for the new jersey nets which will book. >> the brooklyn nets. >> rose: hear it is, look at that place. tell me about it. >> well, all right, first of
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all, it's built for basketball. it's much like inside the conseco center, very good sight lines. we studied 16 different arenas to get good sight lines it will be very tight, exciting, noisy. and it's going to have all the latest technology. and amenities is so when are you there you are going to feel like you're right in the action. and that's hard to do. a lot of arenas are built, i go like this are you very -- this is built like this. >> rose: a lot of those boxes that people like to have. >> about 100 suites. and you have to have that one because people want them and but two to make the economics work today in anarena. you have to have suites. >> rose: you hired frank ghery as your architect, you love frank ghery,. >> that is absolutely true. z. >> rose: more about that in a moment so what happened there. frank was coming, he is going to design your place and frank is no longer there. he's no longer designing this. frank ghery the most admired,
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best known architect in america. >> yes. >> rose: you had him. >> hi him, that's true. >> rose: what happened? >> november, october, november '08 comes along. the world falls a part. and we need to fund this arena. we need to get bonds. at reena that frank designed was beautiful but de it as a composition. there were four buildings around the arena that were integrated as part of the arena. he built a composition, not only anarena. the world falls a part. now you cannot get financing, probably not on the arena almost, but certainly not the four buildings that are integrated. >> rose: and you said one the bankers told that you. >> it didn't take a lot to tell me. in those days as you remember, nothing could be financed. you couldn't finance a home. >> rose: we're not loan anything money here, boys. >> so what we had to do was inhale the arena. we had to separate out the buildings. and if we had done that there would be nothing left of from whaning frank designed so we had to do something se quick leigh and something very good. i sat down and talked to frank. i said frank, look, to start
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all over would be impossible. you could never do it. he said i can't do that. and so what we wound up doing was parting company. he wound up doing forebuilding for us, beautifully which i'm sure we'll talk b and we wound up using shop architect, the wonderful thing is we have remained very good friends. and one thing i have to say about what frank did, what frank actually designed is not much more expensive or more expensive than another architect. >> rose: is that true of most of quote star architects, that what they design is not that much more expensive than what any good architect would design. >> well, the ones i've worked w that is true. renzo of "the new york times" b i would say that building was not significantly, not substantially more expensive. 8th spruce street which frank designed, not much more expensive. hugh hardy, a very good local architect, design architect, cause lot of work with us. not more expensive. you have to be very efficient. i think we built close to 40, believe it or not, buildings ground up in the city. and so we've done a lot of
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building. you have to have a fair amount of experience. but i don't think it's much more expensive, if more expensive. >> rose: so what are we left with at atlantic yards. >> we're left with a beautiful arena designed by sharp architects. >> rose: shop. >> shop architects. >> rose: they're good. >> they're good, apologize my pronunciation. >> rose: they have a good reputation. >> they are extremely good and they're 21st century. when you look at that arena it's 21st century. it's beautifully define-- designed and when people look back a couple decades from now they will say this is kind of the beginning of 21st century architecture in the city. because it is different looking. it's very futuristic looking. it's really the first building built in the city, you know, since the year 2000 that is really a contemporary new building. >> rose: let's take a look. we have a bunch of images. let's see the daytime image of atlantic yards that is the day. barclays center. >> you see how futuristic it looks. it doesn't look like a normal arena. it's not receipt come-- receipt rochl. the background you see the residential buildings but
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you see it is a beautiful building. >> rose: those are buildings to be built. >> to be built. >> rose: how many do you think will be built. >> i imagine there will be 16 built. three on the arena block, the three you see here. you notice they are really background buildings. the mass is broken up, shop did i a good job on that. so the arena becomes the center of attention. the way barclays sticks out that is lake an oculist underneath there and you come in the front door, and it will, architecturally i think it's excellent, really. >> rose: next to the nighttime view of atlantic yards from the flat bush avenue. >> as you can see it is-- . >> rose: look at that. >> cate a statement. and i really many it, it is 21st sent real estate it really is. and i'm very proud of the job that shop did. they did an excellent, excellent job. >> rose: did you like the olympic building that was done in china for the beijing olympics. >> i liked the outside, yes. but i was over there, i wasn't at the o almost olympics but i have seen it, yes. its inside was so, so, the outside was beautiful. >> rose: there is a sense of --
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>> a sense of motion and action here and so on. >> rose: next is a photo of metrotech center in downtown, done before the present project with. what is that? >> well, that was an area in the '80s which was, it was an area which was basically had been designated as an urban renewal area and nothing but parking lots and empty buildings. and new york city was losing jobs. so i built about 7 or 8 buildings for back office jobs in the '90s. the project was started. and there are about 20,000 jobs in these buildings. either jobs created or jobs retained in new york city. >> rose: i should make a point also that during this you went into partnership with a russian billionaire. >> i yes. >> rose: smiling because he is a good partner. >> he's a have very good partner and he was almost president, he ran for president of russia. i joke with people, had he won maybe i would be vice president. but he is a terrific partner. >> rose: a genuine love affair for basketball and the nets. >> he does. he loves basketball, he love
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os the nets. he loves sports all together. and he is a very good partner. the people we work with in his organization are very good partners. >> rose: the other celebrity member of this whole organization is jay z. >> yes. >> rose: he's a partner or he's what. >> j-z is a partner. and jay done z. someone said he was interested in investing in basketball seven areas ago. i met him in brooklyn he gets out of the car and everyone comes crowds around him. we talk. he comes back to my office and we stuck our hand out and said okay, we're partners. >> rose: that's it, no documents, just signed. >> well, eventually. >> rose: but in the begin. >> and michael proct half was the same. i flew out to russia, the high of the procession. i needed an economic partner. i couldn't do this i fly out to russia. i have dinner at his home and we get along. >> rose: how did that happen. did you know he was interested? somebody some broker put you two together. >> i knew he was interested. the great david stern. >> rose: the nba commissioner. >> told me that michael
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prokoroh was interested. >> rose: had inquired about owning an nba team. >> that's correct. i was able to find someone that knew him and we flew out, and in a dinner we kind of knew that this would work. >> rose: i want to skip to the "new york times" building so that they can do that, that is number 7. this is by the great renzo piano who say wonderful man and wonderful architect. he has done a lot of extraordinary buildings. >> yes, he has. >> rose: in different places. this is the building, "the new york times" building seen from a distance there. on the west side, at what, 42nd and -- >> at 41s and 8th. >> rose: so tell me about this building, and what is it about, what did "the new york times" hope to accomplish and how did renzo piano give an expression to what the headquarters of "the new york times" ought to look like. >> well, i was fortunate enough, our company was fortunate fluff to be our partner it to build this building. we did a competition. >> rose: they selected the developer and did a competition for the architect. >> that's correct. >> rose: how many people
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competed for that. >> we got it down to 7. and then we got it down to 3. >> rose: was frank ghery monk the people. >> frank and david were going to be partners. >> rose: what happened to your beloved frank ghery. >> that is how i met frank by the way. frank decided that for a bunch of reasons he didn't want to continue with it. >> but you know the reasons as he has expressed them, don't you. >> i don't know. >> rose: yes, you do. >> didn't he say something, i mean he felt like he just couldn't do what he wanted to do here. >> well, there are different, i think there are different stories going around. i think it was a combination of how he got along with everybody, without naming specific people. i think maybe it was that, a little bit. >> rose: was it, it wasn't you though. >> no, it was not me, no, hardly. i became friends with him. i never forget i sat with him, and they decided no the to. i said bruce, look, all these other people have never seen a say trust, you and i have. so you know what, that is the problem. so i don't think it was me. >> for many years i think if you look at his documentary about his life. >> i know.
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>> so let's see another one, "the new york times" building at the ground photo, ground, a ground floor photo. look at this. there it is. >> magnificent building. >> the times is happy. >> the times is very, very happy. >> all right, the next one you mentioned earlier this is h spruce street this is a building that architecture critics have just raved about, have they not? >> architect, the architectural critic of "the new york times" said it was the most beautiful skyscraper built in the last half century in new york city. >> rose: how does that make you file. >> it makes me feel great, i have to admit. but you never know, i always say to everybody, building a building is like opening a play on broadway. until you open it up, you don't really know. you see the pictures. you know how it's going to be. but until it's really built, and it's kind of been used and people get a sense of it, you don't really know how it's going to be accepted. >> rose: this has an interesting kind of configuration. there is a public school on the first floor. >> there is a public school, a k through eight. >> rose: yeah. >> and that was something the community wanted. this was an as of right
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project. we didn't have to do that but they approached us. the city, or school authority paid for it. we built it. and we are delighted to have a school in the bottom it is great for tenants who have children. >> rose: what else do you have in the bottom. >> just a couple stores, couple stores, actually, not that much room left on the bottom. a hospital across the street but we're in tribeca so there are lots of restaurants. a lot to do,city hall park and e right across the way from the woolworth building and i like to say what frank did is he had the old dance with the new. he had the woolworth building dance with 8th spruce street. >> one of may favorite buildings in new york. >> since i was a kid. >> so you have the-- you can see it right to the left is the woolworth building. >> you can. >> it overlooks brooklyn and the brooklyn bridge and depending on time of day, like the times building the colors are different, the sun shows on it. and in different kind of light and so on. it's a beautiful, beautiful building. >> how many stories. >> it's 76 stories. actually the tallest building in the western
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hemisphere which is not the purpose, i'm not into whether it is the tallest or shortest or whatever but it just worked out that way. proportion is very important to good architecture. >> is it really occupied. >> it's 75% occupied in 11 months. >> in 11 months. >> it's 900 apartments. >> rose: it's a co-opt. >> it's a rental. >> all rental. >> all rental. >> and what is the range of the reps. >> they run from about 2200 per studio in the lower floors, probably up to about 20,000 a month on the upper floors. >> a huge 360 degree view of everything. >> yeah. >> in manhattan, in brooklyn. >> it is gorgeous, new jersey. >> empire state building, and everything else. >> there is, let's talk a minute about, because you were interested in this sort of modular building. >> yes. >> what does that mean and is that a wave of the future? >> well, i like to say that you know we've got cell phones that replaced phones and gps that replaced maps. but if you think about t construction is pretty much
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done the way it was done 50 or 100 years ago. and it's done by hand. it's the way cars were built in 1900. so why can't we start building pieces of them in factories. we do the curtain in factories is so let's build it in module, maybe almost the size of a shipping container and let's place them like blocks to build a building. now that's been done up to about 10 stories. all over the world. >> right. >> it's never been done except once, actually, on a high-rise basis. we trying to do that and we will do that in brooklyn, on our first building. and when that happens, i think we'll begin to change construction in the city. i like to do things that are breakthrough, honestly and this i think is breakthrough. i think building able to build something in a factory make it more efficient, improve it and improve it. >> rose: and less expensive or not. >> and less expensive and better quality. >> rose: final three there is this, where are we in terms of everybody understands that the key to economic recovery is housing.
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it's been the lagging indicator. because of too much supply of house og. too many people had housing too, many people couldn't afford housing and supply got way out of context with demand, where are we now? >> well, it still looks like we've got a mismatch where we've got too much supply and not enough demand. you know, i think it reflects our whole economy, really. our economy is fragile. i think the answer is it's going to slowly get better. all the stuff, you have so many people talk b i can't add much to that except this, it slowly is recovering. we are slowly recovering. the thing i think we sometimes forget is that we are fragile. another black swan comes along or some other problem, we are going to have a problem in housing and everything. and so i'm always cautious, very cautious about whether things are going to come back the way we think they are. housing is still a big concern in this country. >> rose: everybody wants to build in new york though, great architects, great developers all want to bred in new york, right. >> that is true. >> rose: is there much
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building going on here? because we just read that what happened down at the world trade center they've got to cap off one of the towers at 7 floors, not 60. >> well, the problem in new york is we have a fragile economy also. we have done much better than the rest of the country. but now the rest of the country is beginning to catch up and we have issues because of the financial service world. i do think, though, that the digital world is beginning to come into new york in a major kind of way. >> rose: google just bought an entire block. >> google bought an entire block. you have everything there from guilt.com, a company in brooklyn with a thousand jobs. we have 700,000 square feet of tech space in brooklyn. and even, you know, bloomberg news, for example t is really a tech company, and bloomberg, not bloomberg news but i think we're going to find that new york's real growth is going to be in the tech area, the digital world. >> rose: silicon alley is very real. >> it's very real and that is what is go stock happen
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to new york. we have to wait. it will take awhile. >> rose: so tell me about your dream. >> my dream and what is my dream nash, a good question. my dream is always about people. it's always about people. it's about people using the things that i am able to build. about people using an arena, coming, being entertained. creating happiness in an arena. about people leaving the building like the ghery building and feeling wonderful about it. it's about going to "new york times" building and seeing that new is produced there, about metro tech, maintain jobs, i've done a lot in retail in new york city in the boroughs, people from my consumer background, being able to buy things about quality and less expensive. it is always for me about people. you know what, i don't get as big a charge as people might think out of the fact i have built these buildings. i'm proud of it, yes. i always get wonderful feeling when i walk in my metrotech project and i see people on a summer day outside building to work. that's what makes me happy.
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so as long as i can keep doing buildings that people use if a good way and that contribute and that look good and are part of the environment, that makes me happy. >> rose: bruce ratner, thank you. forest city, ratner company. >> my pleasure. vincent van gogh life and work continue to fascinate the world more than 120 years after his death. while his artistic career lasted just ten years he changed the face of post impressionism. many of van gogh's most inventive and powerful works were inspired by his relationship with nature. he once wrote in a letter to his sister i am always obliged to go and gaze at a blade of grass, a pine tree branch, an ear of wheat, to calm myself. a new exhi business at the philadelphia museum of art offers a new perspective on van gogh's representation of nature during the last four years of his life. he discovered a new way to depict the world around him by experimenting with unusual visual angles, decorative color, daring cropping and flattened
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compositions. the show contains over 70 works including 46 paintings by van gogh and more than 30 comparative w. two of the exhi businesses curators join me now. they are joseph rishel, senior curator of european part before 1900 and jennifer thorpson of pre1900 european art. mi pleased to have them both back at this table, back for you, welcome to you. >> it is great to sea you. >> thank you. >> very good to see you. >> it is always good, and i look forward to visiting this remarkable exhi business. tell me about why it is that there are certain people, maybe the world is just genius, that we continue to want to go back to whether it's picasso or van gogh or hamlet or mozart. >> most definitely, yeah. would you have thought, we all at an age heaven know how many van gogh shows have one theme and how you can even presume to do another show.
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and it's like how many productions of hamlet should you see in a lifetime, as many as you can. because it's maybe one definition of the really big guys, is they continue for each generation as their own van gogh. there's these new points of excess which we, i think, boost, have found the sort of lean on. allows yet another sort remarkably fresh insights into this guy that we know huge amounts and there is still more to do. >> rose: new ports of entry meaning what. >> new ports of entry just by defining there is so much in his short career. he has a ten year paint cag rear. our show is the last three and a half, four years. >> rose: but a very productive time. >> hugely just dying to paint, can't wait to get back in there as nature would often prevent, of course. but just these points of
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entry are, he has, there is no doubt of his absolute confidence. this man who is very often weren'ted in famously so for all of his horrible, physical and mental disasters, rolling around within a faster rate of reoccurrence in the very time period we are dealing with. but the way that he is just heaving on with huge energy to get out there. it's kind of lake a horse race. he wants to be out there in as radical as can be. and he knows a huge amount. he was friends with everyone. his brother who knew all the impressionists. he had a wonderful perspective on what was going on. he was positioning himself out there and what he had to do. and any numbers of way as a maker of paintings to invent and experiment with things that really did, its's fun to see the early purchases, almost anything that sold was sold to gauguin and gauguin had to sell it so it went to degas, trust the
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other guys to see the horse there watching. >> rose: what's interesting to me about this is one, the close-ups. but secondly to learn more about van gogh, you can get this from the biography, he was a very learned man. >> extraordinarily so. >> rose: understood history, understood art, spoke three or four lan gajs. sow came to painting, you know w a broad, with a broad understanding of cultural-- culture. >> certainly and he worked as an art dealer for a number of years as a young man. sow not only came with this extremely well-read, very thoughtful, very articulate as well but he had seen an extraordinary amount of art in long done and in paris. so he really knew a tremendous amount before he even took, applied his first paintbrush. >> rose: take us on this journey from 1886 to say 1890. >> yes, so he arrives in paris, the early winter of 1886. he has never seen impressionist picture at that point which is astonishing because they had been exhibiting for a dozen
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years. but their work is only known in france at that point. and so he arrives. he thinks he knows what they are doing. >> rose: coming from brusels. >> and he is just as attorneyed at what they are doing. he writes to his sister that his first reaction was that they were ugly works, they were badly paint, badly drawn, sure they were sort of the worst thing about art. but he quickly changed his, he changed his mind and was trying to see everything copossibly see in pairs. and then it does completely change the way he approaches color and his use of paint. >> rose: so it's lighter, it's more-- and he meets everybody. >> he does. he seems to have known, he certainly knew pizarro, he advices cera's studio as he is leaving paris and i think he knew many, many others. >> rose: and his brother was there. >> he was working as an art dealer so he, of course, knew everyone in the art world as well so imagine these two brothers were sort of taking them-- . >> rose: then he leaves par toys go south. >> he leaves paris after about two years. he found the city overwhelming and he wants to be back in the country. he thinks of it as a refuge and wants to be back
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painting his beloved wheat fields. he had these rural motives-- motives that he loves so much. >> rose: the next stop is. >> after that he is in st. remi for about a year, and he is sort of increasingly feeling uncomfortable, suffers a sort of mental breakdown and goes to an asylum where he paints for a year. and i think he, that was for him probably somewhat stabilizing because he was very contained environment. a group of very sort of i think friendly, welcoming people. he had someone lacking after him, making sure he ate and had a bath every day that sort of thing. >> rose: and you get these stories of him, there would be kids in the streets calling him what were the words they used. >> foo. there was a sense that there is a crazy man. >> yeah. phrase that followed him even in pairs, he was having problems with people issuing him out of the streets. >> rose: what what he do. >> i think he got so wrapped newspaper what he was doing when he was painting that he
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just became sort of completely absorbed in it signac painted with him it pairs and reported that he came back one day and he had paint all over his sleeves. and he was just covered with paint. and then he, there is also a story where he ran,, i think coming back haig painted and kanl vas under his arm, he meets pizaro who is very well established painter at that point and stops him and says let me show you my work. and everyone walking by is astonished by who is this crazy odd man who is guest particular lating and talking very animatedly. >> rose: de ever sell a painting in his life. >> de, actually. he sold a couple of paintings and exchanged paintings with many other artists at the time and he was kmtioned to do a number of views at the hague. so our picture is building that he in fact may have sold a great deal many more pick taurs. and of course he had an agreement with his brother where his brother would send him money every month in exchange, van gogh would send his brother paintings. >> rose: and when did inn this period de meet dr. grr
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grrx,griche. >> the last few months of his life, a live-in affair with him who was looking after him from about may to july of 1890. >> rose: now there is this story the two biographies said he is did not commit suicide but that he was murdered. you read that book. >> i did. the book say wonderful book, remarkable achievement. and they came across, there is this story which is worth previewing because it is much in the news and boy are we happy to have this biography out when our show opened, the month of van gogh, i can tell you. but that it was he i studied with a man who was a german skorl who moved to france and became a great historian of impressionists and as a young man working on cezanne essentially he wasn't to this town where the doctor was there, and his love og brother theo had put him under the eye of thoughtful, wonderful doctor because he wasn't good at cities. they kind of unglued him. and he loved nature. he loved being in the country. the point being that, and
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john in the 30s had talked with some aged people in auverre, 1890 is when he dies in july. john was there in the '30s. and then, i never heard him say anything about this and i knew him pretty well over the years. we worked together on cezanne closely but point being that this comes out again in its '50s that there was this audit of these boys who had teased him. they had a gun. they had been to see buffalo bill. which was certainly there from 1889. he was a bill hit in paris. and because where is the gun what happened. and there was this drifting notion that not that they shot him or what had but where was the gun, did they give him a gun. and that's what the, with great prudence and measured thought and a very both of the authors of the biography are lawyers. they argue a case of opening up this possibility that he did not commit suicide or if he z he did it with the gun
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that they gave him, or that in some accident or tussle, they shot-- all of which there is, they have evidence for, i frankly don't think we'll ever, ever know. and this is a man who had gotten close to doing, killing himself quite independently before. and one of the more amusing-- . >> rose: he bites off his ear after gauguin did. >> he was doing pretty wild acts. it turned out at one point they're saying he couldn't have been doing himself because we have shot himself in the head. he wasn't too handy about these things. >> rose: so he might not have. >> he was-- along the way to be frank. >> rose: with respect to the mental illness you think it is a mistake to look at the art through the prism of his mental illness. >> i think one thing that we and our colleagues have without belaboring obviously his fame through the movies and through we know so much, his basic little mantra he's not the crazi man who painted. he is a very, very great,
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complicated so, fist kated, remarkably as great as cezanne which for me is sega lot, he's my pet. he's sort of my hero, really. but. >> rose: at the time when you and i met. >> exactly. are you were heroic yourself that long, long day. but i all of this, he was a great, great thing w more extra luggage, physically, mentally than many other people have had to put up with. but one doesn't define the other as dow and everyone knows the biography and which is very fragix, one of at parent connection one can make between his mental state and its effect on him as an artist is the amazing urgency living on borrowed time he feels as he's coming out of one of these horrible, horrible break dourntion
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don't you think? is that he knows he's got to keep moving because this monster is sniffing around the room, you know. and it's going to come back. the physical illness, they all seem to be batched together with many attempts to describe them, none completely satisfactorily. so in that case, yes, and it just gives him this urgency to keep pushing himself out there. and to paint with this huge energy and just is astonishing. >> he was influenced by the japanese and some of the work. >> he loved japanese art. and he started collecting japanese friends even before he went to pairs. he and his brother owned about 500 japanese wood block prints which were at that tame very readily available in paris. and he loved the sense of color, some of the exotic world depicted in them. and also these very what for western eyes are very unusual compositional devices using a lot of extreme cropping sort of downward perspective. >> rose: and the fascination with nature comes from where? >> i think it probably came from his childhood, essentially.
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he and his brother grew up sort of loving being outside, having a great respect for nature. but throughout his life i think it sort of helps to ground him in moments when he is feeling overwhelmed. and he has a great sense of love of nature just in its sort of sheer beauty and some of the most how maniable aspects. >> rose: so we can look at this within the context of close-ups. give us a sense of how one should look at the art that we're going it to take a look at now through the -- >> sure. i think it's not that this certainly as we define t and it is just a suggestive argument, but there is, as known by his colleagues and in terms of his most radical paintings do seem to take this tightened in, horizons lifting in the landscape, definition that we have chosen to call close-ups. >> begin with sun flowers there 1888 or '89. 1889. >> this is a work of art that belongs to the philadelphia museum but you see at the begins of the show it is not a close-up.
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this is a head or full chess standard this is a flower painting going back in the history of flower painting to the 17th century, at least. panded as a decoration for a room that he was hoping gauguin was going to advice youity him this starts out to set up that he can do, it is not like he does one thing, drops one thing to do the other. all of this is happening simultaneously. all these different experimentations. this is for him a decorative painting made for a room. >> take a look this is sun flowers 1887. >> awe what. >> this is really the subject of our exhi business which is sort of this really close sort of look, they are wonderful. >> very rich to, they are not completely flat, they are purples and greens. so he is looking at these two sun flower heads sort of casually laid out presumably on some or the sort of table. they are almost the size of a person's head, you have the sense that he is looking at these almost like a
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portrait and there is this great sense of sort of play going on here with the sense of space and almost tilting up towards you but are you looking down on them. it's just remarkable in the way he is distort-- dissort-- distorting the traditional. >> the next thing is crowned imperial in a copper vase, 1887. >> and he starts painting these flower pieces knowing they might sell. will sign them. because he doesn't understand that he has a lot to catch up with in terms of color. and in lickety-split time within six months in paris he has absorbed renoir, everybody, and plowed right through them, takes what he wants. and anybody who didn't get this as a van gogh in the van gogh context because it is sort of starry night and premonition, the world is alive with the sound of something kind of thing, this is that high energy painted all over with a consistent, a great symphony of various moves and things all happening
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simultaneously. >> the next one is iris in 1889, famous for -- >> yes. >> this is one of the works that he does when he's in the asylum. he turns his attention to the fields and mid owes nearby and starts to paint sort of very unassuming, modest aspects of the world around him so this is a sort of iris plant in bloom against a sort of field essentially of what looked lake dandy lions and grass. but the space is quite nice because he is giving you, he is carefully articulating each of the blades and leaves of the iris but the grass seems to be coming up, rising up towards you. >> rose: the next is vineyards. this is in 1890. look at this. >> there is very near the end of his life. not that he knew it at that time. he is a dutchman. he loves the great outdoors. he loves the big sky. and he knew all about monday et and pizarro and loved them. he was terribly nice to him. but he somehow, are you not going to really get out of
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here. you get back to the old convention of atmospheric perspective which is supposed to woosh you out the back. he has pretty much sealed the escape hatch out at the horizon thing. forcing in its way, and this is all part of the whole, of animating this absolutely absurd nothing's rigged here. he, but there is like internal, he endowed the earth are the kind of power of surging, don't you think, finding a way that you here to give a sort of a celebration of nature. it's a very, i find exuberant celebratory pick taur. >> the next is theowood anothers with. oh, wow, it speaks to t doesn't it. >> yeah. >> this is one of the first pick taurs he does when's reeves. he is so taken with this landscape of the sort of field, a ditch that has the irises growing in it. he writes to his brother that it like a world is like a japanese dream because it
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has this wonderful sort of play of irises. of course a plant he often associated with japanese prints. but he immediately paints it and write es has to paint quickly. he mate paint a second view about unfortunately they mow the meadow in the intervening time. but he loves this play about talking about the irises close up and then the you can see the roof tops of the town in the distance. >> rose: again n 1890 this is field with wheat stacks. >> yes, this is terrific. because one thing he catches on to when he comes back from the south to this suburb of paris, far suburb of paris, is these are stretch canvas, these double size things that put him in this cinema graphic stretch thing and do panoramic painting with such energy. and there are times you wonder if he not just painting with both hands because they're so different in their, there is fast an slow. they have real tempos and
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movements all within one thing. and then they are stitching shot its, suddenly it becomes quite geometric zig, zig, zig, across the top. and this is as big as a van gogh gets, this is a very large canvas, probably one of the biggest things he has ever done. >> not approaching he is zan. >> no. >> not all that size. >> the next is wheat fields in a clouded sky. >> there is one where he loves playing with these sort of distant sort of high horizon os but also this is one where you get a great sense of space and sky. but he can't resist in the foreground giving this mound of grass and there are individual blades of grass articulated here. that is his way of playing with this is between near and far. he is oftentimes stretching out the landscape. >> let me just get a picture. he is painting a number of paintings at the same time. he's not just work on one until he finishes it. >> no at this point he is painting at probably you know one canvas a day.
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for 70 days and does 75 canvas so he is working at a phenomenal pace. >> what is his own mind-set. >> well, at this point i think he's very, he's just had his first sort of positive revah as an artist so he is feeling sort of energized by that. but he's also sort of concerned about his future and wants to start. he was always anxious to sell pictures so i think you find him. >> he wants to be what? >> he wanted-- great by his peers, he wanted to be-- famous. >> he wanted to be-- in some ways modelled his, i think sense of fame on monday et who he thought as extraordinarily successful artist. not only in selling canvases but in sort of securing a good reputation and being someone who could sort of continue to support himself and be very well-known. he also thought monday et was very good at marketing himself. so i think he sort of hoped to have some sort of fame like. >> did they have any connection. >> not that they know of. they may have met but they are certainly -- >> you saw a lot of pictures. >> a lot of pictures.
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>> remember the old entry level, name two famous painters who assign pictures with their first name. placing them so vincent van goghness rembrandt van roy. he aimed very high at the end of the day. >> we knew his history so therefore we knew. >> he knew whose company he wanted to be. >> yeah. and he was in the louvre a lot. and i think deep down saw this was where you were going to end up and you know what, he did. a happy ending. >> the next is rain, 1889. >> isn't this a -- >> it is a view down, it's the settup if it has a sort of looking down thing it's because the second floor in the bard window where he was for good reason locked up, and had wonderful care, looking down at this field which is probably the subject he painted the post because he patented in sun and rain this is one of the
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most poignant ones where he goes back to japanese prints, will you will see this affect of zig, zig, zig the rainfalling from the very same jaes prints he owned. we have some at the museum. >> rose: . >> we have two of them. >> rose: let me show you the next, sheaths of wheat. i want to get that you all of these because they are so amazing. >> so this is another of the double square canvases that he takes on, a very ambitious size at the end of his what turned out to be end of his life he is doing large canvas. he loves painting wheat fields throughout his career. but these are ones where he is really you're sort of, as if you are standing in the wheat field and you sort of sheaths of beat are almost dancing around you. also a wonderful sort of lyrical play of these yellows and sort of an almost violet coloured shadow. >> rose: the next one is garden, and this is 1890. the garden. >> this is. >> rose: i love this. >> isn't this just-- it's
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like a little, to say like a little taster menu of how to do an impressionist an post impressist, you can can go this way, that way, you can make a child's cutout puzzle over this he is the most experimental innovater fellow. and the delight for us in doing the show was helping him to create and forget about the theory you impose on him. it's just how wonderfulfully inventive and quick minded they are. and very in this case very gay,. >> the next is trees in undergrowth back to 188 . >> so this is actually done in paris, surprisingly, he's working. >> rose: before he left, he is getting to feel the impressionists influence. >> you can see that in the stab like brush work but he loves the topic of dappled sunlight in a forest and something that many other artists had done but he takes it on and it becomes sort of this massive wall of foliage and undergrowth it is very hard to penetrate into it, the great sense. >> rose: the next is undergrowth with two figures,
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1890. back to 1809. >> yes this is the one jenny was suggesting, the parisian undergrowth things, these, these bars nailed to the top of the frame, really and it's a very cultivated field. and this is that other aspect of him there are times standing with this picture you realize they are never going to get out of there, do you think, that sort of. >> rose: and not surprising they're thinking it of doing a show about edward munk who of course saw these very early on in his own career, mostly in germany and berlin, particularly. and just a lot of him is just the dna coming straight over to this. >> rose: the next one grapes, lemons, pears and apples, 1887. >> this done in parts, looking at other still life painters. but taking a completely different lock on it he sort of scattered this fraught on the table. he's looking down on to it which is a novell perspective that we find him using a great deal if these
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close-ups but the fruit all seems to be spinning, spinning around. >> rose: i shouldn't ask this with such a great artist is blue his favorite color? >> certainly what he is with blue is a pazing, certainly with the say and it plays a wonderful role. he was saying it's if the blue, it is green and blue but these little pepperings of red. but it a vehicle for him and i think it's the big sky dutchman deep down. >> rose: i agree. it seems that way to me. almond blowsom, again near the end. >> this is the ends. he is in the hospital. he's feeling better. they know he's going to get out it is february. he gets this joyous news that his brother has had a son. and he has not had a son but he is naming that son vincent after his uncle and he's overjoid. it is the first thing to bloom i am told having never been there in february, around the med trainian are the almonds this joyous thing, which he then, indeed,
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takes under his arm when he is released, it is as quartered rit there in the book, in the ledger. and goes up and presents this to his name sake who then of course becomes this remarkable man with his mother who was a genius, preserves the career, hangs on to a great deal of the art having done very well selling other parts of it, and foundsed van gogh museum, this is one of the few pictures the family held back. this is the family's thing. the heirloom of vincent who in 1969 founds the van gogh museum. and it is just like, i think it is just like the brass standing up at the end of beethoven's ninth. exaggerating just a bit here, but so exuberant and joyful. >> rose: one last painting, this is moth. >> yes. he actually call it would a death tag moth because that is how he identified it. probably sean at night in 9 asylum. but an incredibly sort of
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bold picture, very sort of flattened. he probably did this from a drawing, maybe composed it from a couple other pieces but very unusual and striking. hard to think of anyone else. >> rose: okay. i am thrilled by this. thank you for joining us. >> thank you for having us. >> rose: pleasure. >> this is fun. >> rose: see you next time captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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